Man Confesses to 140 Murders
Oct. 29, 1999
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A 42-year-old man arrested in April has confessed to abducting and killing 140 children over during a five-year nationwide spree, Colombia's chief prosecutor announced Friday.
``This has no precedent in Colombia,'' chief prosecutor Alfonso Gomez Mendez told a news conference.
He identified the suspect as Luis Eduardo Garavito, who appeared in police mug shots displayed for reporters as a tall, dark-skinned man with mustache.
Garavito was arrested after an 18-month investigation into the disappearances of children, in at least 11 Colombian states, whose bodies were found ``with throats slit, signs of having been tied up and mutliated,'' the prosecutor said.
Only 114 bodies have been found thus far.
The victims were largely poor, many of them children of street vendors.
Garavito passed himself off as ``a street vendor, monk, indigent, disabled person or representative of ficticious foundations for the elderly and child education, gaining entrance to schools as a speaker,'' Gomez added.
Until November, police had few clues into a rash of recent child disappearances. It was then that the remains of 36 boys ages eight through 16 were found in a ravine and an overgrown lot in the western city of Pereira, Gomez said.
That gruesome discovery prompted authorities to create a nationwide task force that began to encounter similarities between cases across the country, he added.
That effort turned up an arrest warrant for Garavito in a 1996 homicide case of a child in the north-central city of Tunja.